THERE ARE THREE kinds of kitchenware stores. The first, which are found in all the best neighborhoods, are pleasant places filled with pretty steel pots at pretty steep prices. They usually have savvy salespeople, music in the air and free samples of cookies and crackers sitting on the counters. They gift-wrap.
The second sort are generally hidden away on seedy streets. They are not so pleasant places, filled with piles of plates and dusty pots. Their salespeople, who are only interested in dealing with big buyers, will rarely give you the time of day. They have no free samples of anything. These stores may not be very attractive; their prices, however, are. They do not gift-wrap.
And then there's Avery's. Avery's is an enormous place (90,000 square feet) that sells just about anything --from lemon zesters to walk-in coolers--that goes into a kitchen. Unlike most restaurant-supply warehouses, however, shopping here is a remarkably pleasant experience. Salesmen offer cups of coffee and information at the drop of a hat. They are willing to explain the difference between a Wolf range and a Garland, tell you which size Calphalon pot will best suit your needs, let you fool around with '50s soda fountains, movie-theater popcorn machines and mermaid ice molds. Avery's is a wonderful playground for those who like a well-stocked kitchen, especially when they can get it all wholesale.
Avery's doesn't gift-wrap, but it does almost everything else. Best of all, it's open on Saturdays.
Avery Services, 901 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles (213) 624-7832.